Billick to return in 2008

OWINGS MILLS -- Brian Billick has survived a losing campaign and will remain the Baltimore Ravens' coach next season. Billick, who signed a four-year contract after last season worth $5 million annually, has been told by owner Steve Bisciotti that he will be retained.

Although the Ravens (4-9) are mired in a franchise-record seven-game losing streak, Billick, 53, will be granted a mulligan due to the multitude of injuries and poor quarterbacking.

However, Bisciotti will continue to stick with his policy of not conducting interviews during the season and won't give Billick a public vote of confidence until after the season.

Billick has reiterated several times that he would be back, a stance backed up by his meetings with upper management, including Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome and team president Dick Cass.

"From a general standpoint, I think my record speaks for itself," Billick said earlier this week. "It has been a tough year clearly, but I don't know how dramatically I've changed. If I was a good coach last year when we went 13-3, how is that different now one year later?"

Starters have missed a combined 54 games due to injuries with three former Pro Bowl selections on injured reserve, including cornerback Chris McAlsiter, quarterback Steve McNair and defensive end Trevor Pryce.

Billick made his case for continuity Monday, saying he expects the bulk of the roster to return in 2008.

What remains uncertain is whether Billick will continue to act as the team's offensive coordinator and play-caller. Billick, who has an 84-65 all-time record and won a Super Bowl title following the 2000 season, has said he wouldn't hesitate to surrender that responsibility if he felt that was in the Ravens' best interests.

The Ravens have had two losing campaigns in the past three seasons.

Under Billick's nine-year tenure, the Ravens have missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons and haven't won a postseason contest since a 2001 wild-card victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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